Thursday, January 01, 2015

Nothing Changes on New Year's Day 

from Fellini's “i Vitelloni”, a quiet walk home alone after the party has ended.

All is Quiet on New Year's Day

Another year, another New Year's Day. Unsurprisingly, I showered this morning with the U2 song, New Year's Day, in my head. Yet, as I sang to the tiles and rush of hot water, I was hearing a sort of Las Vegas version. Think Wayne Newton or Robert Goulet crooning, “All is quiet, on New Year's Day” like Mel Tormé’s Christmas Song but more melancholic; “Nothing changes on New Year's Day”. It ocurred to me that New Year's is really an odd, brief, and extreme holiday. So much emphasis is placed on partying with friends on New Year's Eve and especially that 10 second countdown, it really rubs salt in the wounds of the Lonely.

Nothing Changes on New Year's Day

Since my separation and divorce, my typical holiday has been to travel to St. John's on or near Christmas Eve and depart for Toronto on New Year's Eve. The reason is two-fold. First, the flights are cheaper and easier to get and second, travelling on the "Eve" of something, gives you a second try at travelling on the day of something if weather intervenes on your first attempt. The only real downside has been, I never have any plans on New Year's Eve. This has suited me fine as I've always found it the most hyperbolic night of the year. There is so much expectation put on the count down but nothing really happens at zero. A band strikes up that Scottish ditty, Auld Lang Syne with its sad lyrics about old friends and forgotten loves, and raising a glass for old times sake. I suppose I'm misconstruing it somehow. Perhaps it's really more about raising a glass to purposefully reflect on the past. That sort of somber nostalgia is a bit of a downer to me. Every New Year's Party ends the same way. After a couple of more songs, the lights come on and people wade drunkenly through fallen confetti and discarded bottles and shuffle for a cab or a bus ride home. The next day they awaken to a town so quiet it feels like everyone has died in their sleep. This moment is expertly captured in Fellini's I Vitelloni when at the end of the film the party goers stagger off in all directions except for the one character who has made up his mind to leave the small town to seek his purpose on the first train out in the morning.

It's been my new tradition of spending New Year's alone. This year was a little different. I had originally planned on spending the entire holiday alone and rather than sulk about it, I planned every movie opening and art show I was going to see, what video games I would conquer, what elaborate recipe I would try and what long art film to watch. Then at the last minute, I went home anyway. Once home the pattern of chocolates and biscuits and cocktails and naps and more naps took over.

This New Year's I did have a plan. I had tickets to a World Juniors Hockey Game at the Air Canada Centre (Czech Republic defeated Russia 4-1) and went with a friend who afterwards went to meet visiting family and in-laws for the rest of the night. I was content to get home and grab something to eat and settle in for the night. My first choice of take-out was closed (show some entrepreneurial spirit maybe), so I went to a nearby Thai place. It's popular so I was surprised I only had to wait 10 minutes. Just as I ordered, a women came in behind me and asked for a table. When asked, "How many?" she replied, "Just me." then she promptly ordered an item from memory, just as I had. Later, I thought about this for quite a bit as I ate alone in my kitchen. Should I have invited myself to join her? That's just what would happen in a movie. Should I have at least started a conversation like I know a friend of mine would have? Would such interventions got me arrested or not? For all I know, she had just escaped a large group of unruly friends or a terrible date and was happy to catch some time alone. Or maybe she was open for any stranger to ask to join her. More than any of that I asked myself why I so often retreat like a snail into its shell.

I Will Begin Again

This morning, after my karoke shower, I made a massive pile of pancakes (another long standing New Year's Day tradition) and a large milky coffee and puttered around cleaning the house and doing the laundry. I started a stew that takes hours to make and I'll probably head out to see an early movie. All of this in my own monk-like solitude.

I'm not one for resolutions in the New Year like losing weight or quitting some vice (name one), but this Christmas I did buy a couple of books with the thought that I have to read more. I always think this but never follow through. Maybe it seems too open-ended, “Read More”, but certainly reading a book a month is a modest enough goal that even I could keep. This is a perfect example of what I do every year. I don't really make new resolutions but I  just repeat a promise to meet the same goals every year. They are more like resets, than resolutions. I use New Year's as a reset. You're out of lives, “Start again?” Yes. I think I will begin again.



Post a Comment

<< Home